Theodore R. Sizer, one of the country’s most prominent education-reform advocates, whose pluralistic vision of the American high school helped shape the national discourse on education and revise decades-old ideas of what a school should be, died on Wednesday at his home in Harvard, Mass. He was 77.
A former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Professor Sizer was later the headmaster of Phillips Academy, the preparatory school in Andover, Mass., and chairman of the education department at Brown University. He returned to Harvard as a visiting professor in 1997.
Professor Sizer was best known as the father of the Essential Schools movement, which he founded in 1984. The movement’s umbrella organization, the Coalition of Essential Schools, spans a diverse array of public and private schools united by their adherence to a set of common principles.
His progressive ideas about how schools should be organized and what students should learn helped drive the debates that rattled parents, government officials and educators in the 1980s and ’90s.
Ted Sizer, a former prep school headmaster and Harvard University dean who built an education reform movement that has endured for two decades despite its unfashionable opposition to government- imposed standards and emphasis on deep learning over memorization and regurgitation, has died. He was 77.
Sizer died Wednesday at his home in Harvard, Mass., after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement by the Coalition of Essential Schools, the organization of 600 private and public schools he founded at Brown University in 1984 with the goal of restructuring the American high school.